UPDATE 5:52 pm: As I got into in the original post below, the only way the Minnesota Timberwolves end up with Eric Bledsoe is through a sign-and-trade with the Suns (they don’t have the cap space to make an outright offer). I toyed around with the potential of someone like Kevin Martin or Thaddeus young going into a deal that the Suns…
They’re not interested. At all. That according to adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
The Phoenix Suns have no interest in sign-and-trade discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves involving restricted free-agent guard Eric Bledsoe, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Suns would want an All-Star – or potential All-Star – in return for Bledsoe and had only considered Kevin Love in a possible sign-and-trade scenario with the Timberwolves, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Love obviously forced his way to Cleveland.
Bledsoe, you’re coming down to two options: Sign the qualifying offer of $3.7 million and play one more season with the Suns before becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer (as Greg Monroe did with the Pistons) or take the four-year, $48 million offer already on the table. Hard to see another good option popping up for Bledsoe.
5:11 pm: After a summer of waiting and hinting he might just sign the qualifying offer if he didn’t get a max offer, the Suns’ have a serious suitor for guard Eric Bledsoe — but one without a lot of leverage, one they can get a lot back from if they go that way.
The Wolves are offering Bledsoe the four-year, $63 million maximum-level contract that he has been seeking, sources said. Bledsoe and the Suns have been in a stalemate all summer after the team offered him a four-year, $48 million deal in July.
This is a renewal of talks that have stretched over the past several months. The teams had discussions involving a Kevin Love trade that would involve Bledsoe but never made serious traction on a deal.
This has to be a sign-and-trade because the Timberwolves don’t have the cap space to make the offer outright. Minnesota beat writer Jerry Zgoda said earlier in the day he had not heard a deal was close.
The first reaction might to be to send Ricky Rubio south in the deal, but that makes no sense for the Suns. They want to keep Goran Dragic as the point guard when he opts out and becomes a free agent next summer and they will open up the pocket-book for him or lose him. The Suns can’t re-sign Dragic and Rubio (a restricted free agent next summer if no extension is reached) plus on the court the two can’t play together well, both are pretty pure points. Why take the ball out of Dragic’s hands? That said, any deal for Bledsoe is a sign Flip Saunders is moving on past Rubio (who he doesn’t want to pay what the market may demand next summer).
When healthy Bledsoe is an All-Star caliber guard — he averaged 17.7 points a game for the Suns last season with a very good .578 true shooting percentage — but the risk is he hasn’t been healthy for a couple of seasons (he played 43 games again last season coming off knee surgery).
Any deal is likely focused around other vets on the Minnesota roster such as Kevin Martin, Thaddeus Young and Chase Budinger (obviously Andrew Wiggins is untouchable). Without Bledsoe the Suns are light at the two, so Martin and his one year deal make some sense but he is owed $22.3 million over the next three years, that’s a lot for what he provides. The Timberwolves have wanted to move Martin (there were rumors of talks with the Bulls centered around Tony Snell, but Chicago is too smart to go for that). Also the Suns already have the Timberwolves 2015 pick but it is top 12 protected, those protections can be loosened.
Minnesota doesn’t have leverage here, so they are going to have to give up a lot to get him. Which has the markings of a deal that doesn’t get done.
But the idea of Bledsoe at the point and Wiggins on the wing is certainly interesting.